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Will the dangers of distracted driving stop risky motorists?

Before cell phones became commonplace, driving while intoxicated seemed to be the biggest safety concern of U.S. roadways. While DUIs are still a problem, some of the emphasis on that issue has been laid aside to concentrate on the problem of distracted driving. Many people think of dangerous driving behaviors and picture young adults, and to an extent they are right. Younger drivers are the most likely to take risks while driving.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that 88 percent of drivers between 19-24 admitted to engaging in risky driving behaviors within 30 days of the survey including:

  • Texting behind the wheel
  • Speeding
  • Running a red light

But younger drivers aren't the only culprits. In the 60-74 year age group, 10 percent admitted to texting or emailing, and in the 75 and older group, more than a third admitting to running a red light. While there is a stereotypical image of young teens engaging in these behaviors, the survey actually showed that drivers aged 16-18 actually fared better than drivers in their 20s-50s.

Why is that? Some attribute the improvement to campaigns aimed at teens to discourage distracted driving and other dangerous behaviors. Some hope that expanding education about the dangers of taking risks on the road would result in better numbers among older age groups as well.

Do as I say, not as I do

In every age group, taking risks behind the wheel doesn't happen because drivers don't know better, or because they think the behavior is okay.

Over 75 percent of drivers condemned texting or emailing while driving, however over 30 percent admitted to doing so just within the last month. Driving while drowsy was another contradiction. Although 96 percent identified it as a serious safety threat, more than a quarter of drivers have taken to the road when they were so sleepy that they could barely keep their eyes open.

As for talking on cell phones, more than half feel threatened by drivers who talk on their phone, yet more than two-thirds admitted to making a call while driving in the last month.

Awareness isn't everything

If one thing is clear, it is that drivers of all ages know what types of behaviors are risky. Unfortunately awareness isn't everything. In 2015 the U.S. saw its biggest jump in traffic related deaths in 50 years. The seven percent increase brought that year's total to more than 35,000 fatalities. Official counts for 2016 were not been completed, but estimates by the National Safety Council pointed to another rise, up to 40,000 for 2016, signifying another six percent increase.

As drivers, we all need to do a better job in following our instincts when it comes to taking dangerous risks behind the wheel. Of course, if you are actually hurt in an accident, hindsight will only help you if you are able to use it to your advantage. By working with a personal injury attorney, you can determine what types of risky behaviors the responsible driver may have been engaged in that caused the accident, and will work hard to see that you are compensated as much as possible for those injuries.

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